The Benefit: A Sake Cocktail
The Benefit is a beautiful pink sake cocktail with ginger, lemongrass, and grapefruit that you can make by the pitcher for a small crowd.
What’s The Benefit?
Every year Umami Girl donates a handful of cooking parties for six people to charity auctions for local groups. In exchange for generous donations, people get to come to UG headquarters and cook together with friends and family while sipping homemade cocktails, then sit down together to eat and drink some more.
This past year, our menu (which I’ll publish more of in the coming weeks) centered around that epic Nobu dish, miso black cod. It’s one of those recipes that’s easy (as long as you prep in advance) and just oh-so-good to serve at a dinner party.
Searching around on Pinterest for culinary cocktail ideas that would befit black miso cod, I came across this gorgeous drink from Bojon Gourmet. The Benefit (so named because these cooking parties get auctioned at benefits, and also this cocktail has a long list of benefits, and also it sounds a little cool, and also I’m not that creative sometimes) is my take on that drink. I’ve added vodka, because hi, and adapted the method to work well for a pitcher of drinks to serve six to eight people.
What is sake?
Sake is a Japanese rice wine.
The process of brewing sake is kinda similar to brewing beer. Polished rice is washed, steamed, and cooled. Then a mold culture called koji is added to break down the rice into sugars, which ferment.
How to choose sake for this recipe
Sake comes in many different styles, and I’m not an expert in any of them. But here’s what you need to know to choose a sake for this recipe:
The quality of a sake is based on the polishing ratio of the rice used. Polishing rice means removing the husk and outer parts of the rice grains, and more-polished rice leads to a higher-quality sake. The ratio is talked about in terms of what percentage of the rice grain remains after polishing.
We used a Junmai Gingo sake called Momokawa Silver (which we found at Whole Foods) for The Benefit. Junmai Gingo indicates a pure sake (Junmai means there’s no no distilled alcohol added) made with rice polished 40-60% (that’s what the Gingo tells ya).
This is a high-quality sake, but it didn’t break the bank. The flavors worked really well with the rest of the ingredients, so we’re rolling with it.
- 6 stalks fresh lemongrass
- 3-inch piece fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups fresh pink grapefruit juice
- 4 cups premium sake, such as Momokawa (Junmai Ginjo)
- 1 cup vodka
- Trim bottom end and woody top half of each lemongrass stalk, reserving tops to use as garnish. Roughly chop remaining segments and add to a mini food processor.
- Roughly chop ginger (no need to peel) and add to food processor along with sugar. Pulse until ingredients are very finely chopped.
- In a 4-cup glass measuring cup, quart-sized mason jar, or nonreactive bowl, stir together the Meyer lemon juice and the grapefruit juice.
- Stir ginger lemongrass mixture into lemon and grapefruit juice mixture and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Fill a small pitcher about 1/3 with ice. Strain juice into pitcher through fine mesh sieve, pressing down a bit to extract flavor from the solids. Stir in sake and vodka. To serve, pour into glasses filled partway with ice. To garnish, trim woody bits from tops of reserved lemongrass stalks and slice to form a fanlike shape.
Adapted from Bojon Gourmet.
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